Making every minute count

I got bumped to first class.

I didn’t ask for it, pay for it, or do anything to deserve it, but it happened anyway.

So I got to board early, and was served orange juice (no ice) before take off while others got on the plane. I stretched my feet out and had some room on both sides of my seat for my arms. I barely needed the rests.

When we were airborne, I was asked by name if I wanted another drink. I ordered club soda (no ice) and they brought it to me on a tray, in a real glass. I sipped it while playing video games on my iPad.

Then the flight attendant offered me a snack; I took a fig bar. She then added, “Is that it?” so I also grabbed the cashews. They’re still in my bag, waiting for a time when I’m actually hungry.

Best 49-minute flight ever.

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Out the window from Chengdu to Lijiang. I did not fly first class on this trip.

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Morning thought

I woke up to answer a text. A friend wishing me a great time on my journey to China. I responded:

“Thanks! Things are starting to fall into place. Or become unraveled. One of those two.”

I put the phone down, continued to lie in bed, and thought:

Or both.

I think that’s closer to the truth.

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My bus ride home from work last week.

Seven days

I sit on my couch and watch NFL playoffs, exhausted, feeling my immune system fighting against the push I gave this week. I actually fought writing this post, part of me too tired to do it, but knowing that the words would keep floating in my head until they made their way through my keyboard and onto the screen. My wonderful seven days, where I was able to experience so many loves, refused to remain silent, wanting to be boasted to the world (and deservedly so).

Last Sunday morning, I woke up to a miraculous view as Seattle welcomed a rare sunny day in the middle of winter.

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I could stare at this all day, every day.

Then, my friend and I were off to a bar to watch the home team come up victorious on an improbable last-second play. The crowd erupted in the excitement of playoff football, strangers celebrating together as sports fans do. I high-fived the young man who shared our crowded table even though I was secretly rooting for the other team. The pure joy caught me, too.

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It’s not difficult to figure out where this bar’s allegiances lay.

No sooner was the winner declared than it was time to go visit a friend from far away. Reconnecting with someone from Korea – someone I wasn’t sure I would ever see again. Yet, here I was, seeing her twice since I left the country. Tea, girl talk, and a late lunch of authentic Vietnamese food in a strip mall passed the hours too quickly and it was time to go back to Portland. I wonder when/if I will see her again as she heads back to her home in Iksan. I arrive back, and it’s time to unpack and repack for the next trip.

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I miss this sassy lady already!

Off to Enterprise, OR for a work-related site visit – perhaps the one time I will see real snow this season. The road dangerous, but my colleague skilled at navigating our route through the elements. The clinic visit was informative, as I learn more about the healthcare system everyday I work this job. Evenings we were treated to beers from the local brewpub – ones that could only be had as a reward for making it all the way out to eastern Oregon. The hotel had an indoor pool and hot tub for two nights of relaxation. It took a few days, but on our last morning there, the sun came out and we were able to see the mountains as we headed back. I learned that the billion-dollar Powerball winners live in California, Florida, and a small town in Tennessee three times as big as where I was staying. I won’t be retiring soon.

snow in Enterprise

We drove through this…

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…to get to this.

One day of work in Portland which featured lots of writing and struggling with data on difficult topics. Speaking my mind when things didn’t feel right, I was both firm and tentative in expressing my thoughts on a project I feel deserves more authenticity than the quick-fix it was being given. I struggled through tough conversations without sacrifice. Celebrated the end of the day by buying my plane tickets to China in April, and then settled in for a night filled with bad TV and good food. Leftovers are never to be taken for granted; stews taste better days later.

The weekend immediately followed and consisted of some volunteer work tearing down an adult entertainment establishment that will someday be replaced by a community center. Over 25,000 square feet of red, white, and black décor. Tearing up over-worn carpet and removing nails from 2x4s that will gain new life somewhere presumably happier. Taking a sledge hammer to the bar area was extra satisfying – shards of tile tumbled to the ground and drywall simply fell away with every swing, perfected from my softball days. I was sore and it felt great.

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Goodbye, Sugar Shack! Though that cheetah *is* something to behold.

That night I met up with a friend to see The Book of Mormon. We arrived at the theater several hours early to enter a lottery for cheap tickets. We were the first names drawn, and for less than half price ended up in the second row – close enough to see the actors’ facial expressions and even when they sprayed their lines. I forgot how much I love musicals and though I could vow to see them more often, I’m not so sure that will happen, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Reflecting on this past week, it’s easy to see how I’m the luckiest woman in the world.

2016, here I come!!

Resolution: a firm decision to do or not to do something.

Goal: the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.

A friend of mine doesn’t do New Year’s resolutions. She does New Year’s goals. Reading the definitions and differences between those two terms, I wish to follow her lead. Resolutions are too firm and judgey. I like the way the meaning of goal focuses on effort, which to me reads more as process. It’s a “desired result” – it may not happen, but I am sure as hell going to try.

So, here are my goals for 2016:

  1. Write more. I’m going to revise my book, Sexual Decisions. I aim to blog at least two times a month. I have other books in my brain that may or may not evolve because revising a book and maintaining my blog is already a lot of writing – but I love the idea of hitting the keyboard and producing.
  2. Travel! I will be going to Nepal and China in April. So excited! My brother and sister-in-law got me this amazingly bright and wonderful orange suitcase that will go with me. At the stroke of midnight, I ran around the block with it to welcome travel this year. But first, I will be going around Oregon this month. I’ll be heading to Enterprise, Oregon for work and then to Pacific City for a girls’ weekend. I love going places and there’s no reason not to.

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    This suitcase and I are going places in 2016.

  3. Apply for my Canadian citizenship. I have the forms; I just need to start filling them out. The problem is I hate forms. They make me nervous. I will probably need some serious help. Another goal will be to ask for that help.
  4. Reconnect with myself through meditation. I haven’t practiced in a while, and I miss it. There’s going to be a lot going on in 2016 and sitting will help me stay centered. I’ll shoot for three times a week. Quiet, deep breathing and peace are things my body craves and appreciates. I plan to honor that.
  5. Go to the driving range. I haven’t played golf in ages, and it just seems like a fun thing to do. Maybe I’ll try a kickboxing class too.
  6. Paint my kitchen. I love my kitchen: it’s huge and invites people to come in, cook, chop, chat, and sip champagne. However, I’ve always hated the color. My ex and I had a hard time trying to figure out what to paint the west wall, and after the poor man tried two horrible colors, our compromise resulted in green mud. I think he liked it, while I was disappointed the very moment it went on. But at that point, a fourth time was not in the cards. I am debating going with a deep, smoky plum but that might be too dark. I’m going to take that chance anyway. It can’t be worse than dirty pea soup.
  7. Save less. This sounds odd, but it’s something I need to work on. I have a habit of saving things until it’s too late. Favorite foods that sit in the freezer until they burn. Expensive bottles of wine that sit on the shelves too long. An outfit that I don’t wear enough because the day it’s an interesting one. Special glassware and dishes that never get used. This Christmas, Dave gave me a pink elephant cocktail shaker, which pretty much completes my set of an amazing, vintage bar set. I plan to serve everything with these from cheap wine to juice to dry martinis.

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    Many drinks will be served using these. Note the soon-to-be-gone crappy wall color in the kitchen.

Here’s to setting goals, not limits, and moving towards things that bring joy. Happy New Year.

We are Pilgrims

A friend from Oman calls on Facebook messenger to chat with Dave. He lives in Spain now, back in his flat in his homeland, after growing tired of the college we worked at and the Middle East in general. I love the fact that technology allows for face-to-face time. So immediate, and in some ways, authentic. We get to see each other as we are right now; me without makeup, he winding down his day, getting ready for a typical European late dinner (10pm!). Sharing the ordinary is simply extraordinary.

We get a tour of his flat, full of mementos of the lands he has traveled. One wall, decorated with masks from across Asia, serves as his background while we Skype. A continual reminder of lands and cultures he has experienced. I am making an effort these days to place more artifacts of my times across the globe – to turn my home into a better reflection of who I am and where I’ve been. Before I left, my home was pretty depersonalized; possibly because I shared it with someone who was more private. Possibly because, in an attempt to create a true shared space that represented both of us, the compromise resulted in a reflection of neither and no one. But now, four continents worth of memories are in my living room (for some reason, I didn’t grab anything from Australia); states across the US are represented as well. Textiles, artwork, and pottery: even a twenty-year-old pack of cigarettes and two bowling pins are all displayed to recall the past, enjoy today, and anticipate future journeys.

Our friend from Spain reflects on what’s next for him. “After a year, it will be time to move on. Things just get old after a while. I like different. We are pilgrims, where it is always time to try something new. To see new things. One year is a good time to rest, then something else. Life is interesting.”

I write this while sipping tea out of a mug depicting Snoopy exploring Canada; I bought it in Korea. While I know that sitting in the present is something that benefits me, I also know that I don’t want to become so wrapped up in what’s in front of me that I lose future goals. Goals of continued exploration, learning, and experiencing different.

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My Korean mug